“A good old-fashioned siege of homesickness wouldn’t be so bad—but these constantly recurring twinges of emptiness that occur when something unconsciously reminds me of you are a little hard to take. I don’t see now how I even had the nerve to get on the train at Fort Clark. I know now why American soldiers always win their battles—they fight hard so they can get home to their wives and families. I think our greatest hardship is that there is no one near who loves us and to whom we can turn for comfort. Each of us must stand on his own feet at all times. But that is enough of that. Remember that without your love I would have no incentive for anything ever again.”—Lloyd Hunnicutt, 1942, somewhere in the South Pacific
In 1942 Captain Lloyd Hunnicutt shipped out for the Pacific. He left behind, in Fort Worth, Texas, his beloved and pregnant wife, Virginia. Captain Hunnicutt went first to the island of New Caledonia, a relatively safe and malaria-free island, and then to the jungles of New Guinea, where his men were bombarded by the Japanese and threatened by malaria.
Dearest Virginia presents a selection of the letters he wrote his wife, sometimes two a day. Captain Hunnicutt could not tell Virginia where he was, but the letters reflect his experiences in the Pacific—his efforts to keep busy on ship, the importance he placed on reading, the pleasures of fresh food as opposed to C-rations. But above all, these are love letters, filled with longing and loneliness, philosophical musings on marriage and fidelity, and humor. Reflecting the feelings of service men and women everywhere in all wars, these letters are as poignant and relevant today as they were sixty years ago.
Of his concern for his wife’s pregnancy, he wrote, “I don’t want you scared by an automobile or anything this late—the baby might have a voice like a Chevrolet horn!”
The baby was a girl, named Gayle, who moved to England and became a well-known actress. Clearing out her parents’ home when her mother moved to an assisted living facility, she found the letters from her father, stashed them away for later, and eventually spent months sorting, choosing, and condensing them to produce this book. Unfortunately, Captain Hunnicutt was required for security reasons to destroy any letters he received, so none of Virginia’s correspondence survives. Gayle Hunnicutt contributed a lengthy memoir, rich with her memories of her parents and a childhood in Fort Worth.
First published in England by Kyle Cathie Ltd: Publishers—2004.
About the Author
Published by Texas Christian University Press